Probate & Probate Litigation
The probate process is concerned with determining whether or not a valid Will exists and the handling of a deceased’s estate. The first thing to determine in a probate matter is whether or not a valid Will exists. If so, it is typically the executor’s (the person named in the Will as the one who is to administer the deceased’s estate) to introduce the Will for probate. If a valid Will does not exist, then the applicable probate court, upon the filing of a petition, will appoint an administrator to administer the deceased’s estate pursuant to Georgia’s intestacy laws. In most situations, an administrator will be required to post a bond with the applicable probate court whereas an executor will not be required to post such a bond.Duties of an Executor/Administrator
Once the Letters Testamentary (issued to an executor when a valid Will does exist) or Letters of Administration (issued to an administrator when a valid Will does not exist) have been issued, the executor or administrator, as applicable, takes charge of the decedent’s estate (including bank accounts, real estate, etc.). The executor or administrator will, generally, notify known creditors of the decedent’s death as well as the appropriate taxing authorities. The executor or administrator will then pay the debts of the estate that appear to be valid and will contest those that don’t appear to be valid. It might become necessary to sell some or all of the decedent’s assets to satisfy the estate’s debts. Sometimes, such a sale requires court approval and sometimes not. Once the debts of the estate have been satisfied, the executor or administrator will distribute the net assets remaining in the estate pursuant to the terms of the Will (if one exists) or the intestacy laws of Georgia (if a valid Will does not exist).
If the heirs or beneficiaries of an estate take issue with the actions of the executor or administrator, such disputes are normally resolved in the applicable probate court through litigation.Probate and Estate Litigation
Probate related disputes can be emotionally trying and difficult to negotiate and resolve. Oftentimes, such disputes pit one family member against other family members at a time when a family’s emotions are especially raw as they have just experienced a death in the family.
Whenever feasible, we attempt to resolve probate related disputes through mediation or other alternative dispute resolution method where it is more likely that a quick and fair resolution will be reached with the least amount of hostility. If such a negotiated resolution is not available or possible, our attorneys have extensive experience handling all types of probate related litigation including Will contests, trust contests, competency issues, undue influence, incapacity, self-dealing and other breach of fiduciary duty claims as well as actions which seek an accounting.
Whether you are in need of someone to help assist you in navigating the complexities of the probate and estate administration process or are in need of someone to represent you with regard to a probate or estate administration dispute, our attorneys have the necessary experience to help.
If you have a probate or estate administration issue or are in need of assistance in the administration of an estate, please give us a call at (678) 679-6717. We will be happy to discuss your situation with you.